Phone: 615.460.1161
2305 12th Ave. S.; Nashville, TN 37204
Mail: PO Box 121976; Nashville, TN 37212

 

The Practices

Although we use many different mediums (paint, clay, dance, poetry, etc.) and many different processes (ways of engaging with those mediums), there are four main PRACTICES that are fundamental to the work we do at the studio.

Practices

Practices are designed in such a way that they deepen over time. We are strengthened and enriched each time we do them. These four practices have the quality of taking us inward. They connect us to our inner most being and strengthen our capacity for listening and receiving from our deepest self and beyond. The great value of the arts as therapeutic and “soul-making” modalities is that these practices bypass the conditioned mind and allow the individual to drop into a deeper place, a place of aliveness that is actually the Source of creativity, fulfillment and life itself.  “Dropping in” occurs because these practices are non-verbal. 

Non-verbal processes originate in the right brain, and therefore, bypass the linear, analytical, left brain whose job it is to get us through life as efficiently as possible.  While this is an important and useful job, we sense there is more to life. We often feel stuck in narrow channels, not knowing how to crack open the boundaries constructed by our left brain conditioning or to reach the nourishment and fulfillment that reside at deeper levels of our being.

Each practice is connected to one of the three main channels from which we receive and express: kinesthetic, auditory and visual. At Art & Soul we are interested in enhancing each person’s ability to receive and express from all channels because they all support each other. Visual art benefits from having the audio/voice channel opened up. Likewise, choreography, movement and spoken word benefit from the visual and auditory channels being open.

To create the environment for deep and meaningful explorations, careful attention is given to these elements of the creative practice:

This process is so incredible! I am constantly amazed at the revelations that come through the work.
- Linda Leftwich, Art & Soul student
 
 
 

Play and PlayingPlay and Playing

We begin our description of practices with “play,” which is fundamental to all the arts.  Without this practice, the artist is frequently disconnected from the self; he or she is often either lost, or relying solely on technique.  Play is a sincere, but not necessarily serious practice that lets us (almost without notice) drop into our natural selves and express from that authentic place.

When we play, we are:

Play is fooling around, daydreaming, trying this and that—it’s an attitude, a way of being.  You can do it anytime, anywhere, with anything and nothing.  

At the studio, we like to play with all kinds of non-art materials to help trick the conditioned mind to slip outside its limited box.  We arrange, stack, wrap, hang, tie, sort, bend and mix all kinds of things such as beans, sticks, feathers, rocks, fabrics, jewelry, beads, buttons and bamboo. 

In the end, it’s an experience.  If we’re listening, play will take us somewhere we haven’t been before. 

“It’s in playing that we get down to the work.” - Arunima Orr
 
 
 

Authentic MovementAuthentic Movement

Authentic movement is about moving and being moved. It is about expression and meaning unfolding without interference from the conditioned mind.

Authentic Movement is a practice in which a safe container is created for the body to move and express itself from deep within. This form was originally developed by a dancer, Mary Starks Whitehouse, who was searching for a way to embody Jung’s method of healing called “active imagination."

There is a meditative quality to this practice. We create a quiet space in which the mover can listen deeply to the impulses in the body and allow the body to move in whatever way it wants, moment to moment. The mover and the movement are received, held and honored with compassion and loving kindness.

This practice:

When we were moving, I felt like an African woman. Imagine if we had grown up in a village that celebrated our freedom, our bodies and our minds. It made me sad to think of what I had missed. But then I thought, “I can begin here. This circle at Art & Soul is my village. I feel safe and supported to try anything.”
- Shelley Thomas, Art & Soul student
 
 
 

Intuitive ArtmakingIntuitive Artmaking

Often in our culture, we have the model that the idea for art comes from the head and is then executed by the conditioned mind, which applies its knowledge of various techniques. Intuitive Artmaking is a way of creating art in which the artist is supported in being connected to the multi-dimensional matrix of self and life.

At Art & Soul, we practice re-connecting to the Source before we start “making” art. We meditate; we move the body; we read poetry; we play. When we transition into intuitive artmaking, we are in a playful state of not-knowing: trying this, trying that, making a mess, not knowing what we are doing or where we are going. We may have an idea that is a “point of departure." We hold it lightly while allowing a freewheeling exploration of the materials to let us drop from our heads down into our bodies. We say, “The hands know what to do.”

What happens is sometimes a big mess. Part of our practice is to become hardy to big messes and no “results” at times. But quite often a stunning revelation appears on the canvas. Or the piece of clay becomes something quite mysterious and powerful although we may have no idea what it is. We are in relationship with our artwork, painting, clay, etc. We make a mark; it speaks back to us. We make another mark; it sings or groans in response. The work or “play” continues in this way.

Art & Soul stands behind the notion that true art is revelation, not production, and this requires a leap of faith. Leaps of faith require trust. Often we have a lot of self-doubt. That’s why we do things in community. We support each other to let go and jump off the cliff. We also support each other to stay in the process and not quit; to go and grow deeper, to learn more, be more curious and more surprised.

Are you ready?

At Art & Soul I am always greeted by an atmosphere already charged with creative energy. Here is a form of Baraka, or blessing, created by exuberant play, hard work and held in love. Art & Soul is where magic becomes commonplace.
- Deanie French, Art & Soul student
 
 
 

Sound and Sound JourneySound and Sound Journey

Sounding and Sound Journeying are practices that explore the power and beauty of the voice when it is given space to move freely, without judgment or inhibition.

Like the other practices employed at Art & Soul, it is meditative in nature. It is a deep listening practice. We breathe in a particular way. Without judgment, we let sound come. Listening to our deepest impulses, we discover worlds within us we didn’t know existed.

Using breath, movement, tone and chant, we enter into a deep relationship with ourselves, with others, and with something mysterious, opening new pathways to the source of creativity, passion, nourishment and the experience of fullness in life.

This practice:

I was in the middle of the Sounding circle and felt a mass of energy right in my solar plexis. I was trying to get it out through my voice, but I was really scared. Finally it came and I was so amazed. It was the first time in my whole life I felt connected. That night was a turning point for me. After that I knew I was an artist. I couldn’t believe I had lived my whole life up to that point never feeling connected.
- Toni Swarthout, Art & Soul student